Property Owner's Challenge to Montclair Redevelopment Plan Denied

by: Joseph Grather
30 Jul 2013

On July 26, 2013, the Appellate Division issued an unpublished opinion in Grabowsky v Township of Montclair.  In May 2012, the Township adopted an ordinance amending a redevelopment plan to permit an assisted-living facility on the Church Street site.  Grabowsky filed an action challenging the ordinance adoption, which was rejected by the Law Division in a summary manner.

Grabowsky appealed and raised the following points of error: (1) That two council members had a conflict of interest due to their membership in a church near the proposed facility; (2) that the Redevelopment Plan as amended was inconsistent withe Master Plan and that under the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law the planning board was required to explain the basis for the deviation; and (3) trial court erred in permitting the redeveloper to intervene in the action.

The appellate court affirmed, rejecting the substance of the first two points in narrative fashion, and rejecting point 3 without analysis as permitted by R. 2:11-3.  The Appellate Court rejected the first point because the church was neither and objector nor an applicant in the case.  “The critical and undisputed fact, ignored by plaintiff, is that the Church was neither an applicant nor an objector in the matter under review. Indeed, it took no position on the matter at all.” (Slip op. at 10).

The second point was rejected primarily because Grabowsky did not point to any inconsistencies with the municipal Master Plan, but cited a 2006 Master Plan Reexamination Report as his source for the conflict.  The court found that “plaintiff’s reliance upon the Reexamination Report is misplaced and it is not what is contemplated by N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-7(d) and (e).